Monday, December 16, 2013

Debt Free!

I did it, everyone. I dug myself out of debt. I am debt free! It is an amazing feeling. I sent the final payment in last Friday and by Saturday my account looked like this:

This weekend, I filled out the chart that had been hanging on my wall since January 2012. You can see that I started with about $56,000 total debt. The red line captures the debt, while the other lines cover income and expenses.

And the most ironic part of this is that the red pen ran out as I drew the line to zero! It is the only red pen I own and it has been with me since I started this journey. It is as if the pen said, "My time here is done" and decided it was through with this debt thing. Me too, pen, me too!

I've been doing this happy dance since Friday!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Best of the Blogosphere: 12/14/13 Edition

Every Saturday I feature a blog post in the following categories: Simple Living, Financial, DIY, Before & After, and Random. Here are this week's picks:

Best Simple Living: A great question posed by the Everyday Minimalist - do you own a wardrobe or a bunch of clothes?

Best Financial: I stumbled on this tumblr page the other day. Each post is a great reminder to exercise restraint in spending money. Check out #notbuyingthis.

Best DIY:  A great Christmas tree DIY - use old or broken CDs to make ornaments! Via Apartment Therapy.

Best Before & After: These examples from Better After have given me some pretty good ideas for how to organize my closet with some style! Especially since one has to walk through it to get to the bathroom!

Best Random: This NY Times Rent vs. Buy calculator is amazing. How have I not heard of this before?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Small Christmas Decorations for a Small Space

Growing up, my parents had a huge stash of Christmas decorations. We put up lights outside, wrapped garland around the banisters, set up a porcelain nativity scene on the coffee table, and of course, had a massive (9 foot) Christmas tree. I loved decorating for Christmas then.

Now, with no kids and little time spent in my own apartment at Christmas, I only have a few decorations to put out. I only have one box of decorations, contrast that with the 15 or so boxes my parents have at home in their basement. I'm content with having less, so this extends to my Christmas decorations as well. 

My philosophy for decorating for Christmas is this: choose only the decorations you like and keep them to one area of the apartment.

Here are the small changes I've made to my apartment for the holiday:

Now for the close-ups!

Yay or nay on the ornaments atop mason jars?
That's me and my grandma cutting down Christmas trees.
Some more ornaments - this time with cinnamon-scented pine cones! It smells lovely in here.

Last but not least, this adorable snowman air freshener!

How do you decorate for the holidays in a small space?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

New Table = More Space

As promised, here are photos of my new table. It is the Norden Gateleg from Ikea.
Look at all that space!
And now expanded on one side. The chairs are from Target (and are stored on a hook in my closet when not in use).

You'll also notice the mason jars hanging on the wall. This is the start of my wall herb garden! I need to buy the herbs, so I'll post about that when I've actually put some plants in there!

Here is a before and after of the dining area.

I'm very happy with these changes. Finally, the dining area is coming together!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Best of the Blogosphere: 12/7/13 Edition

Every Saturday I feature a blog post in the following categories: Simple Living, Financial, DIY, Before & After, and Random. Here are this week's picks:

Best Simple Living: This post on building a tiny house shows tons of before-during-after photos. I love seeing the whole process. Via Viralnova.

Best Financial: A soliloquy on the horribleness that is Black Friday. Via iheartbudgets. 

Best DIY: There are so many ways to upgrade the Lack Ikea table. Check out Apartment Therapy's roundup.

Best Before & After: You probably wonder how many more times I can post a kitchen before and after before I get tired of it. The answer is none, my friends. I love a good kitchen reno! Via Design Sponge.

Best Random: I love it when Apartment Therapy puts together one of their massive lists of good links. This one is a list of how to reuse random things. My favorite is using an old sink as a planter!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The End (Of Debt) Is Near!

Take a look at this glorious picture:
I'm entering the final stretch of the longest race of my life (more like a marathon). I've been in debt for 11 years. I only got serious about getting out of it in June 2012. Time has both flown by and dragged on since then. It has been a long and difficult journey, but it will all be worth it in a matter of weeks.

Soon, oh very soon, I'll be able to say I am no longer in debt!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Few New Things

As I am writing this, my dad is working on assembling my new wall herb garden. I should really attempt these things myself, but my dad insists on taking the reigns. I'll have pictures later in the week. For now, here is the picture I am modeling my wall garden on:
In addition to the wall garden, I picked up two new pieces of furniture at Ikea that really help save space in my small apartment. Right by the door I have replaced a too-big-for-the-space end table with a much smaller one:

The stand completes the landing space area. It has room underneath to accommodate a few pairs of shoes, plus it comes with a drawer that is now a catch-all for my keys and junk mail:

The item I'm most excited about is my new table. My current one is quite chunky and takes up a lot of space. The new one is built for small spaces, expanding only when you need it to. With one leaf expanded, it fits two people:

With both leaves expanded, it fits six:

But the best part is how small it gets when not in use. And the little drawers for storage!

The addition of these items and the repurposing of others has made a huge difference in my apartment recently. The space from the door to the kitchen is much more open. Stay tuned for photos of these items in use!